Amid the ongoing coverage of the expansion of the Occupy movement from Wall Street to other areas of the country and world, we have forgotten about a recent news item that puts it all in perspective. Earlier this month, Bank of America announced that it would be charging a $5 monthly fee for debit card usage.
CEO Brian Moynihan argued that BOA was justified in charging the fee as a means of making a profit because its shareholders demand it and it was giving everyone advanced notice.
While this was top news for about a few days, it has gone off the radar screen. I raise this issue of BOA to see if we as a community would ever become incensed if Tech tried such a maneuver with our Hokie Passports.
While every member of the community is required to have a valid Hokie Passport, imagine if Tech were to charge a usage fee for those of us who use our Hokie Passports for meals, as a charge card or even in the soda and laundry machines? How would we react? Would we merely accept it? Would we be considered disloyal to the institution if we protested against its
Just as BOA can think of it, I suspect that some individuals at Tech may have thought about the same thing. If such a fee were to happen, it would have a huge impact on the usage of the Hokie Passport for any other purpose than showing it as a proof of identification.
Basically, students with meal plans or anyone using their cards with Dining Dollars would be paying an additional tax to use their cards. These students would have no viable alternatives, especially if they lived on campus and were required to have a meal plan.
While this scenario may appear to be far-fetched, we should not allow things to get to this point. Moynihan defended the new debit card fee because they need to make money to be profitable.
With Gov. Bob McDonnell asking state agencies to plan for a 6 percent reduction for the upcoming biennial budget, the question of how Tech will handle the budget issue is an important one, as it is still reeling from the last round of budget
Without resources from the state government, the only means of revenue is through student fees and tuition. We have already seen steady increases in the tuition and fees students pay to cover costs.
With students already spending hundreds of dollars on textbooks, how would they feel about having to pay, for example, a $20 fee per class for teaching supplies? While this question may appear to be rhetorical, this happens today within the local school system, as families are required to purchase supplies from a sheet provided by the school.
It has become so routine that you can go into any Target, Kmart or Walmart during the back-to-school sales, pick up the list and shop. Gone are the days when schools provide the staples of the classroom.
In another example, there are certain university offices that no longer have live receptionists for outside calls. Instead, you have to call and leave a message, or send an email to reach someone. This can be frustrating for those trying to speak to a live person right away, instead of having to wait for someone to call back.
I don’t believe that sacrificing customer service to save additional budget dollars is worth it.
The example of BOA is just one possible indicator of what may happen. I raise the issue because we often think that real world crises don’t impact us within the university.
My only hope is that the institution will be sincere in engaging the university community if it were to consider any radical options to raise revenue. As a community, we need to be prepared to discuss these difficult issues when they happen.